This chapter has been brought to you by me, and larkspur.Chapter Nineteen: Persimmon
When Consort Zhao Xiang left, she said to Li Lingjun, “My life is your life, if I die, could you live well in the Chu? Every time you cannot understand, just think more about this.”
On the other side of the mountains and rivers, in a tent in the wind and snow, Ding Ning slowly put down the piles of files in front of him and shook his head.
The beginning of the Min Mountain Sword Trials was the start of the real contest between him and Zheng Xiu. She was in the open, and he was in the shadows, so he had won a few rounds invisibly previously. Yet no matter what happened in Changling, no matter how many people on her side died, everything seemed to be advancing based on her will. Undoubtedly, compared to before, she was much stronger, and more terrifying. She was playing a game of chess as was he.
This world, in the end, has become a game between you and I? Ding Ning looked at the wind and snow outside the tent, and grimaced slightly.
The wind came from the north, blowing the snow towards the south. Some of the snow directly fell onto the plains. Some of the lighter snow, carried by the cold winds, turned to clouds and made it past Yin Mountain.
A cloud drifted past the thousands of Wuzhi tents while Ding Ning grimaced, dropped lots of snow, and slowly moved south. As time passed, when the cloud was far from the Wuzhi plains, and had passed beyond Yin Mountain, Changling was welcoming the new year.
In a slightly cold and large courtyard.
Hearing the explosions of fireworks from the nearby Changling streets, Shen Xuan put a persimmon piece between his lips, and slowly chewed.
Persimmon had the same sound as “matter.” The persimmon was originally fiery red in color. In Changling, the dried persimmons were not just sweets to relieve bitterness when drinking tea, but had the meaning of good luck in all matters.
All matters go well, but how could the matters of the world all go well?
A mountain was by the side of the river. Its lower half was covered in white mist, while the upper half was clear. So it looked to be floating above the river and floating above the mist. It was not far from the Changling. Except for some deliberately picked cultivation geniuses, no one else in Changling could enter here in their lifetime.
This mountain was Spirit Void Sword Sect.
The world knew the Min Mountain Sword Sect and Spirit Void Sword Sect were the two strongest cultivation places in the world. Yet compared to Min Mountain Sword Sect, Spirit Void Sword Sect was more mysterious.
A man with loose hair carried a bag of dried persimmons and slowly climbed up the mountain path.
The mountain was quiet, but there were some disciples training by the path. Seeing the loose haired man idly walking along like he was visiting friends on Changling’s streets, they were slightly shocked. They had never seen this man before. Yet the loose haired man was not surprised at all. He just nodded slightly at them, and continued up.
There was a piece of rock like a naturally lying Buddha by the side of the Wei River. Below was a stone house. The walls and roof of the stone house were covered with moss, some of them even blooming with strange gold yellow flowers. The decor inside the stone house was very simple, but there was a fine tea set, with a complete set of tools.
Hearing the footsteps of the loose haired man, a man in purple robes inside the stone house started to make tea. He was of an ordinary appearance and normal figure, but his skin gave off a transparent light that came in and out as he breathed.
“Senior Sect Brother.”
Seeing the loose haired man come in, the purple robed man nodded and greeted. But the joy in his features quickly turned to coldness. He looked at the bag of dried persimmons the man carried and said, “Senior Sect Brother, what do you mean?”
“We meet only once each year, this is for congratulations,” the loose haired man looked at him and said.
The purple robed man frowned and said, “But Senior Sect Brother should know that I do not like dried persimmons, and do not like even seeing them.”
The loose haired man sat down facing him and said gently, “Why?”
The purple robed man immediately had an ugly expression and said, “Senior Sect Brother knows the answer to the question.”
“Of course it is because of Junior Sect Brother Ming.” The loose haired man acted as the host and started to make tea. He said slowly, “In the past Changling chaos, Wang Jingmeng fought his way into Changling, Junior Sect Brother Ming wanted to help him, but you did not want to go.”
The purple robed man took a deep breath, and looked at the loose haired man, frowning even more.
The loose haired man did not avoid his gaze, and continued slowly. “You did not want Junior Sect Brother Ming to go, you thought that him going to help was useless, and he would die. Also because you had a grudge against Wang Jingmeng. So you poisoned Junior Sect Brother Ming … you used the Heart Devouring Powder because you wanted him to be powerless and give up on fighting. But you did not think that Junior Sect Brother, knowing that he was poisoned, still went. Junior Sect Brother Ming liked dried persimmons, and you put the poison in there. You wanted Junior Sect Brother to live, but you caused him to die instead. So you feel guilty, you do not like to eat or see persimmons.”
“Not that I do not like to see or eat, but I am not able to see or eat.” The purple robed man hung his head and said, “Senior Sect Brother is kind so why do you want to mention such past matters after so many years?”
“You did not want to let Junior Sect Brother Ming go because you did not want him to die. But us who use the sword only care about our pleasure, we do not fear death, we will go if our friends are in trouble. If you did not have a grudge with Wang Jingmeng, you would not have used such means when Junior Sect Brother Ming wanted to go.” The loose haired man looked seriously at him and said, “But what if the grudge between you and Wang Jingmeng did not exist?”
“What?” The purple robed man could hear the meaning of the loose haired man, suddenly looking up and exclaiming.
“You always thought that your uncle was killed by Wang Jingmeng, but what if it was not Wang Jingmeng, but someone else?” the loose haired man said.
The purple robed man grew slightly stiff, his eyes full of disbelief.
“Back then, I knew of this, but during the Changling chaos, when Junior Sect Brother Ming died, I was cultivating in the eastern sea. When I returned, Wang Jingmeng was dead, and Ba Mountain Sword Field no longer existed. These had become matters of the past, and there was no use in mentioning this.” The loose haired man said at a pause, “Also, just my word alone is not something you would have believed.”
The purple robed man felt cold. The wind outside blew on the little gold flowers on the moss outside. Then the rays of light that came in from outside started to shake.
“Your uncle raised you and taught you cultivation. But it was not Wang Jingmeng who killed him, and nor was it his intention. The one who killed him was Bai Qi. Just like destroying the Li Family back then, this was Zheng Xiu and Yuanwu. They just put this on him in the end.” The loose haired man continued calmly.
The purple robed man’s breathing grew difficult. He looked at the loose haired man, and slowly said, “I cannot completely believe Senior Sect Brother, because while I believe Senior Sect Brother’s person, you were too close to the master of the Last Flower sword back then. Other do not know, but I know, if Senior Sect Brother had been present in the mountain back then, you would have gone to Changling along with Junior Sect Brother Ming.”
“Of course you will not believe me alone. But it is not just me.” The loose haired man looked at him and said, “Ji Qingqing is just outside the mountain right now. If she tells you, what will you do?”
“The Lady of Chen, Ji Qingqing?” The purple robed man slowly lifted his head and smiled bitterly.
In the next moment, he took a sip of tea and said, “If so … why has Senior Sect Brother mentioned past matters today?”
“This is a personal grudge. I think that Senior Sect Brother will not want me to try to become the master of Spirit Void Sword Sect, and use the deaths of so many of Spirit Void Sword Sect for my revenge.” He looked at the loose haired man after a pause.
“Zheng Xiu wants An Baoshi as sect master.” The loose haired man said solemnly, “They have already arranged for him to enter Void Sword Valley.”
“So it is three against three?”
The purple robed man thought of the people the loose haired man spoke of, the other three people of Spirit Void Sword Sect, and the woman was the disfigured woman waiting at the gates. He sighed and stood up.
Translator Ramblings: What usually gets translated as young master, gongzi, literally means the “son of a duke” in Chinese. Ji Qingqing is referred here to as the “daughter of a duke”, a nvgongzi so I used “lady” as the title.